As Nigeria marks her 52nd Year of Independence, TheNetNg.com Editors sat down to compile a List of 52 Men And Women Shaping The Ever-Growing Nigerian Entertainment Industry.
Mr Innocent Ujah Idibia is one of the most influential, the most consistent, the most decorated, and the most successful musician in his generation. Even his peers attest to that. From humble beginnings in Jos, he has grown to become Africa’s most iconic pop star, clearing the path for hundreds of others after him. Respected at home and abroad by almost everyone that matters, Idibia is now building his Hypertek dreams, mentoring younger acts like W4, Rocksteady and Dammy Krane.
Although digital distribution is now finding its way to Nigeria with platforms such as Spinlet, Truspot, Iroking and Notjustok, and with the coming of Apple, marketers like Obaino, ABHU, and TJOE still wield their potent influence on music distribution. With many Nigerians consuming physical CDs, and the industry lacking the much-needed distribution framework, Alaba is the headquarters of music sales, with those there responsible for at least 90 percent of annual music sales.
Okosi sits atop Viacom‘s business in Africa, with Nigeria being a major market. From MTV Base to Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and now BET, he is one of the few determining the direction of today’s home entertainment.
Nigeria’s stand-up comedy industry has him to thank for its rebirth and survival. The godfather of modern comedy, Ali Baba is arguably one of the most inspiring mentors and leaders still working within entertainment. Still actively performing, he continues to hold up the ladder for many to climb.
One of the architects of Nollywood, Amaka Igwe is mostly known for creating Checkmate and Fuji House of Commotion. But the writer/director/producer has, for many years, been involved in training through her Lagos-based institute. There’s also her annual TV expo BOBTV as well as Top Radio, the Lagos-based FM station that’s doing things differently.
For the last four years, Bello has taken it upon himself to honour Nigerian musicians with the annual South South Music Awards; the only recognized awards show from that region. Solely organized by his Lockdown Entertainment company, Bello has been able to run the awards show with little or no sponsors since 2009.
For years, he was lawyer by day and poet by night. These days, Maikori is a music entrepreneur by day and night, building, along with his team, Chocolate City, one of Africa’s most successful labels. Audu’s label has brought hip hop music and culture to more Nigerians than any other label – thanks to the success of their recording artistes M.I, Brymo, Jesse Jagz and Ice Prince.
Animashaun is the executive producer of Nigeria’s only surviving music awards. Through his company, Smooth Promotions, he has built The Headies (also known as Hiphopworld Awards) as Nigeria’s most respected awards, as acknowledged by audiences and the musicians they reward. Animashaun is also the publisher of Nigeria’s only surviving (although epileptic) hip-hop journal HipHop World Magazine. His TV show Hip TV, syndicated on multiple channels here and abroad, is now warming up to become a 24 hour cable channel.
Bellanaija has been able to tag itself as the one-stop online portal for stories revolving around Nigerian fashion, wedding moments and heart-touching stories. If you are a lady who’s single, married or a mother, you definitely have this website bookmarked.
The Managing Director at M-NET Africa over the last three years has harnessed the African TV viewing culture, with not just the quantity but quality of African programming. She also spearheaded the creation of the newly launched AfricaMagic channels.
Hammond’s Flytime has become the go-to promoter for those hoping to have successful shows in Lagos, Nigeria’s entertainment HQ. From owning the famous Rhythm Unplugged property, to exclusive deals with Silverbird and Eko Hotels, and a media structure that works, Hammond is emerging as a major force in today’s industry.
A complete behind-the-scenes man, Ubosi moved from being a big player at Cool FM to set up Megalectrics Limited, owners of radio stations – Premium choice BEAT 99.9FM, retro-styled Classic FM 93.7 and pidgin-speaking Naija FM 102.7, which have all become fan favourites in Lagos. Beat FM especially, has redefined today’s pop music, with OAPs like Olisa Adibua, Gbemi and Toolz creating a new set of stars that otherwise could have remained unsung. Megaletrics is now taking the game to Ibadan and other regions…
No other director in Nigeria can match up to Clarence Peters’ combination of talent and work. From shooting videos for top artistes in and outside Nigeria to co-running a record label, he keeps setting standards by taking his work up a notch every time.
classical yet contemporary, the revered visually impaired producer is placed in the highest of ranks when music production in Nigeria is mentioned. His recent successful work with his label artiste Bez proves beyond words his mastery of sound.
‘Entertainer’, the best word to describe the 32-year-old. Dapo Oyebanjo has broken barriers again and again; name it – winning world recognized awards, collaborating with international artistes, signing up with one of the biggest labels in the US, and making a bunch of white girls sing passionately to his songs. Need we say more?
At just 19, the energetic lad has broken into the music industry, scoring hits upon hits, and giving inspiration to a generation of young upcoming artistes in the country. The self-proclaimed ‘Omo baba olowo‘ now joins fellow pop acts Wizkid and Wande Coal, who are often used as yard sticks to measure the success of young artistes here. As his popularity and influence continue to grow, he would need to be careful, as there are many potholes ahead.
DJ Jimmy JATT:
Africa’s most iconic DJ, Jimmy is the bonafide leader of old and new school jockeys on the continent. And he’s worn that hat since his early days at Obalende, through Surulere, both in Lagos. Pathfinder, innovator, teacher, influencer and performer, he’s lit the way for many, and scored many firsts – including his remarkable mixtape, TV show, and snapback range…
Many of the biggest hit songs you heard on your radio were made by Michael Collins. Don Jazzy has been able to create a cult following amongst fans, successfully selling off his persona. Despite breaking up with former label partner D’banj, Don Jazzy still stands tall amongst other producers.
Efe Omorogbe is the co-founder of Now Muzik, Nigeria’s leading talent management company.
A firm supporter of underground talent, the English graduate is also a major force in the battle for collective rights administration, through his music industry coalition initiative.
The elder has been organizing shows and concerts since before Benita Okojie popped up on TV.
Over the years, Lawani has shown exemplary and commendable work as a technical and events expert, working from behind the scenes to give the best output – a fantastic show. He still stays in the fore of things as the brain behind most shows.
This movie producer remains prominent for her constructive role in Nollywood, producing award winning movies for close to two decades. Isong, also a film maker and scriptwriter, owns a film academy where she trains people on acting, directing and screenplay writing.
The Ultima Boss runs MTN Project Fame West Africa -one of the biggest music talent hunt shows in this market. Conservative, yet omnipresent, Ayeni is a star-maker who himself, rarely gets noticed. His other asset is the hugely successful ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ TV game show.
The Afrobeat maestro fit into his father’s shoes years ago, and ever since, whether or not he can carry the Kuti legacy hasn’t been questioned. The three-time Grammy Award nominee is often known to voice his opinion against bad governance in support of the masses, and with the help of his sister Yeni Kuti, hosts the yearly Felabration in honour of his late father Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
Funke Akindele Almaruf:
Akindele invaded our home years ago when she was a teenager and returned as ‘Jenifa‘ years later. Her movies did not only sell out in cinemas, but have caught the eyes and hearts of the young and old.
Genevieve Nnaji: The Nollywood actress has remained in the top position when counting female movie personalities in Nollywood. Described by CNN as the Julia Roberts of Nollywood, Nnaji’s profiling on the international scene has been a big boost to her career, not counting the many movies she’s scored hits in.
Jason Njoku: Credited for creating what the international media has described as the ‘Netflix of Africa,‘ Njoku has combined technology and creativity to satisfy the ever-growing needs of Nollywood fans across the world, ranking in the Forbes ‘African millionaires to watch’ list.
Jide Kosoko: The seasoned actor has constantly featured in Yoruba and English movies, but hasn’t limited his role in the Nigerian film industry there. Working behind the scenes as a major influence within the Association of Nigeria Theatre Act Practitioners (ANTP) and the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), Kosoko has survived for a long time, and is still as relevant as he was two decades ago.
Kenny Ogungbe and Dayo Adeneye: Keke and D1 practically revolutionized the way music was being presented on radio and TV back in the 90s; setting a standard which was studied by every other competitor who dared walked in their footsteps. And when new media and the digital age came knocking, the duo were there to embrace it and forge ahead. Add that to the KENNIS Music label and gigantic artiste roster, plus the yearly Kennis Music Easter Fiesta, which has been running for nearly a decade-and-a-half.
King Sunny Ade: Only a few have the blessing of longevity that Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye has. Few have his crossover appeal and influence. An important voice in industry affairs, from COSON to PMAN, KSA is constantly working the back end, using his experience, contacts and resources to help younger artistes, resolve conflicts, bridge gaps and create opportunities.
Kunle Afolayan: The New York Times describes him as the Martin Scorsese of his time and Afolayan has proven his worth, living up to expectations when he releases his movies. From his debut production ‘Irapada‘ to the critically reviewed action-drama ‘Figurine‘ and the recent drama-comedy ‘Phone Swap,‘ the accounting graduate has shown finesse in all his work.
KWAM 1: He’s slowing down these days, but K1 the Ultimate continues to have a firm grip on the affairs of Fuji music. He assumed leadership of that segment long before godfather Ayinde Barrister retired. And many young and established Fuji acts – and their fans – will tell you K1 is lord. Obesere won’t agree with them though.
Linda Ikeji: From gossip blogging out of passion to making millions, the last six years have been phenomenal for the former model. Knowingly or not, Miss Ikeji’s blog has remodelled the face of entertainment, breaking some of the biggest, and at times, most controversial stories.
M.I: At a time when the Hip-hop genre has not fully been embraced in Nigeria, Jude Abaga has been able to worm his way into the hearts of music lovers with his skillful wordplay. Setting the pace, upcoming rappers are inspired by his artistry and ability to yield, yet not fully conform to the commercial appeal of listeners.
Matthew Ohio: Wednesday nights are no longer ordinary nights in Lagos – ever since Industry Nite, the weekly talent show case-party, kicked off. Put together by events promoter Matthew Ohio, Industry Nite has hosted the biggest of stars and has proved instrumental in the careers of many upcoming talents. The property is now moving to Port Harcourt and other parts, establishing itself as the biggest and most consistent industry talent showcase…. Little wonder it has received sponsorship from the likes of digital company Spinlet.
The Murray-Bruces: We can all agree that the Bruces have played many major roles in taking entertainment to the next level. Spearheaded by Ben Murray-Bruce, the family has not only succeeded in radio and TV broadcasting, but also made cinema culture fashionable again, with the ubiquitous SIlverbird Cinemas. Their ‘Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria‘ pageant also remains popular, despite a sad drop in quality…
NotjustOk: The site, run by two young men, Demola Ogundele and Ovie Ofugara has been the one-stop place to listen to the latest music and/or watch the latest videos. Gathering a lot of readers from home and away, some Nigerian artistes would rather their songs make the website than any other place on the web.
Obi Asika: Bold and always in the know, record label owner Obi Asika has had a hell of a run in the entertainment industry. He’s been running the Storm 360 label for years, first signing some of the game’s biggest artistes, and pulling the strings behind reality shows like 2005′s Big Brother Nigeria.
Ola Balogun (Olasco): The movie sponsor and marketer understands the audience. And for many years now, he has given his backing to projects guaranteed to succeed. One good example: Funke Akindele’s ‘Jenifa’.
Omotola Jalade: Being a busy wife and mother of four has taken away nothing, but added even more publicity to the diva that remains at the top of the food chain as regards Nollywood female actresses. Omosexy, as she is fondly called, has keyed in her persona just like her ‘rival’ Genevieve Nnaji has done for herself.
P-Square: The twin pop stars have broken barriers and set standards right from their debut work, captivating us with breath-taking videos and dance moves that would do more than raise an eyebrow from Usher Raymond. Five albums later, Peter and Paul Okoye are still at it, collaborating with international artistes and signing major distribution deals with top international labels.
Peace Fiberesima: She’s the woman behind the African Movie Academy Awards which has been running for 12 solid editions, gathering movie stars from all over Africa. Fiberesima has positioned the awards show as the most credible and consistent honorary show often described as the ‘African Oscars‘.
Richard Mofe Damijo: From his days as Segun Kadiri in the Amaka Igwe classic Checkmate, to his Nollywood moments, standing as one of the top actors in the scene, RMD has always stood out. The 51-year-old is now a state commissioner and continues to influence the younger generation.
Rotimi Pedro: Pedro, the Optima Media Group founder, is rapidly becoming a major force to reckon with. With Nigerian Idol and Nigeria’s Got Talent grabbing big market shares, the sports veteran and his team are delivering entertainment to millions of Nigerians while giving many an opportunity to kick off their careers.
Ruth Osime: Under the watch of Nduka Obaigbena, Ms Osime has created the most successful fashion platform in Nigeria – despite the fact that THISDAY Style is a free pull out in THIS DAY The Sunday Newspaper.
Segun Arinze: The talented actor-singer-TV host has been there and done that. Whether releasing singles and videos to hitting Nollywood as ‘Black arrow’ in the Nollywood classic ‘Silent Night’ and even taking time off to host the popular but short-lived AIT talk show ‘No holds barred,’ Arinze has cultivated a habit of working passionately. His concerns surpass what many thought when he decided to run for the post of President at the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN) and eventually won.
Sola Fajobi: Sola Fajobi must have seen the light in Nollywood many years before we all woke up. Through his Next Movie Star reality show, he has contributed to the training, development, and promotion of Nollywood stars more than anyone in his industry.
Tajudeen Adepetu: It’s been almost two decades since Adepetu worked his way into the hearts of Nigerians with the household sitcom ‘Family Circle,’ then with ‘Everyday people.’ His vision is exemplary; starting a music station which initially ran a one-hour slot on several terrestrial TV stations before his own cable TV launch. With other stations like ONTV and the defunct Sound City Music Awards and publication ‘SoundCity Blast‘, one can say Adepetu has had a big run in the game.
Tony Okoroji: The arguments for and against the Copyright Society of Nigeria being Nigeria’s sole collecting society will continue to go on. But for now, Okoroji, a former pop star and ex-PMAN president, is breaking boundaries in the area of collective rights administration, making majors like Eko Hotels, Transcorp and Silverbird group sweat – and showing that it is indeed possible for artistes to get deserved royalties.
Tunde Kelani: A pioneer and veteran by every definition, Kelani’s brilliance in cinematography and storytelling is second to none. With over 20 films made under his Mainframe Productions, Kelani has been setting standards for as long as we can remember. The movie producer/director/writer is one of the major influences in the Nigerian movie industry till date, and a strong evangelist of our fast-fading culture.
Wizkid: Ayo Balogun began his journey at a young age and will be grateful he did. At just 22, he has broken records, just like those before him did, but at a younger age. Wizkid, already partly signed to a foreign label, has bagged the international awards, sold records and worked with some top US artistes. He defines what a pop icon should look, sound and feel like. Attend a Wizkid concert and witness the massive youth following he controls.
Wole Oguntokun: Writer, critic and director, Oguntokun is creating an opportunity for many Lagosians to enjoy live plays again. With Theatre at Terra and other initiatives, Oguntokun, just like Steve Onu, Segun Adefila and others, is working to revamp a very important segment that has suffered for years
Yaw: From a stage actor and occasional stand-up comedian, Steve Onu has emerged as one of the most influential on-air personalities in Nigeria, beating many established presenters to become the leading breakfast radio host. And with his station, Wazobia FM focused on the grassroots, Yaw’s has built a fan base that’s in the millions. He’s now using his voice to attract attention to several charity initiatives.